by Naomi Anna Kimbell

From you, I hid my parting. No goodbye, no home by dinner, no be careful out there. The first hot day, cotton from the cottonwood pitched out from its pods, June-caught on downy sails, free, and me too, free, that summer and every other, leaving you at the line of the house and the garden, no name stitched into my shirt, no water, no compass, no sensible shoes but flip flops and sneakers, hungry to hoard my solitude and the secrets I found in the woods: the bears I saw, the cabin I found at the top of a ridge that was not quite deserted, the ditch I hid in for hours where I thought I could disappear. And when I returned, tired and dirty, you were also tired, your hands covered in a dirt less reckless than mine, your fingers dry and split from digging rocks and earthing nightcrawlers, trying to grow food so we’d have enough food to eat, and your skin was hard, too rough to stand the touch on my face, cracked, peeled. I ducked when you reached for me and slunk to the quiet of my room, avoiding all touch until touch was all I wanted when—years later—you couldn’t lift your hand. Still and sterile, split and splayed with silver sharps, barely beating, barely breathing, eyes shut, and body draped so I couldn’t see your belly, the bowl now filled with a spent black bouquet—so they said—and I held your fingers to my face and rubbed them against my cheek, but you were already in your earth, I think, spilling from your porcelain into the deep dark loam.

Naomi Anna Kimbell earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana in 2008. Her writing has been published in the Iowa Review, Black Warrior Review, The Baltimore Review, The Indiana Review, Crazyhorse, Calyx, The Nervous Breakdown, The Rumpus, and other journals and anthologies.

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